Once again, the results of my poll surprised me. The vote was overwhelming. Starting pitching is the Nats' biggest offseason need.
It got 32 votes out of 46 cast. Relief pitching was "runner-up" with eight. A middle infielder got four, a big bat got 1 and a catcher got 1.
I think starting pitching is a need. I think relief pitching is a bigger need.
Right now, I have Lannan, Detwiler and Hernandez in the rotation (yeah, I know, but I'm assuming/hoping they'll keep Livan around). Lannan is an obvious lock. I think the Detwiler we saw in September earned that, I was much more impressed with the way he carried himself upon his return. Livan is Livan - he'll get rocked now and then but keep you in it more often than not.
This free agent they talk about will be in the rotation and who knows what player will fill that slot? They'll get someone. Is Tim Hudson worth a look? Are the Marlins really looking to trade Josh Johnson? Can he be had without sacrificing the entire farm?
The fifth spot? Let the rest of them battle it out: Mock, Balestar, Martin, Martis, Stammen, anyone else.
Clippard, Burnett, MacDougal as bullpen holdovers - probably Bergmann, too. At least at the start. Will Storen be ready that soon? Even if he is, there's a couple of spots available. I'd love to see the Nats sign or trade for some proven relief help. Who is out there worth pursuing? I must go look. I will report back later.
I'll take another season of MacDougal as the closer if Storen isn't quite ready. What we saw with him is what we'll get. Some nights he'll be unhittable and other nights it will be ugly. He's not a long-term answer but he'll do for one more year. Storen is certainly the guy in 2011, you'd think. You'd hope.
Can Flores catch 130 games next year? What are the available options? Will Guzman handle a move to second base? Is it worth pursuing Orlando Hudson? Oh, I could go on and on and on.
But get some relief pitching first.